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My Experience with the Looking

I was introduced to this looking in 2007 by someone I met at a Byron Katie workshop. A woman named Annie mentioned your name and said she thought I would like what you have to offer. I remember listening to your podcasts when I got home and resonating very deeply with the precision and intimacy with which you describe human suffering. It was indeed my suffering. The problem was, I had no idea as to what you meant by "look at yourself".

It wasn't until a year and a half later, when one day while I was doing The Work of Byron Katie, an exercise in questioning my stressful beliefs, that I understood what you meant. That conscious encounter with myself was so unmistakable and powerful that I felt an almost physical hunger to experience that again. That is how I came back to you in the fall of 2008 and finally embarked wholeheartedly on this looking. Your tip that I am the same today as I was when I was 3 or 13 was what made the difference. Within 2 weeks I could see a change. Although I was in the midst of a serious crisis at the time, I felt calm and clear.

I was going great guns until I hit a snag and started to revert back to my lifelong depression and confusion. It passed, but I felt very vulnerable after that.

Sure enough, later on I experienced such a horrifying depression, I truly don't know how I survived it. To this day, I don't know how much of it was a result of the looking and how much of it was a result of low levels of both serotonin and dopamine, which I have apparently experienced most, if not all, of my life.

During this time, despite an intense identification with the mind, and often feeling very distracted and agitated, I continued to want to look at myself and did so to the best of my ability.

I noticed that it didn't work for me to set aside a time to look. I couldn't push myself to look if I didn't feel like it, or if I felt blocked. It is so true that self-reliance is the name of the game. No one could tell me what my path was. I was full of self-doubt for a very long time, wondering if my body chemistry could prevent me from engaging in the looking, or if I was too damaged to "get it", or if I was really doing it right.

I kept listening to your podcasts for hours and hours every week. There is something that sounds so right in the message you get across again and again, that one cannot fail in this, that it is the intent that counts, and that trying to change the content of the life is like trying to put the cart before the horse. These tips helped calm me down enough to want to look more and to experience it more consciously. One indication seemed to be that sometimes the looking turned into a kind of gerund experience. What I mean by that is, say if I was brushing my teeth, the me who was brushing my teeth seemed to melt into simply "brushing".

I still have my doubts that I will ever be liberated from my lifelong companion--fear. However, my interest and desire in this looking remain unwavering. Sometimes I'm not sure which changes are a result of The Work of Byron Katie and which are those from this looking. My gut feeling is that they started with The Work, but would not have been sustained without the looking. One of the changes I have experienced is enough of a distance from my anger that when I experience it, I usually can see it for what it is, and usually feel free to respond in a rational way, despite the intensity of my feelings. This is a new and wonderful development in my life.

The truth is becoming more and more my safest refuge. When I am wrong, I feel less and less of a need to hide that fact. Being right is becoming less and less important. In fact, sometimes I look forward to apologizing. I love how acknowledging the truth can instantly clear the air. However, sometimes the truth pops out of my mouth before I am prepared and it feels uncomfortable, and I wish I could have been more elegant or tactful. This seems inevitable, in that such openness is unchartered territory for me.

I am clearer about the source of some of the deepest pain I have been dragging around all my life and so am clearer on where I can get help and where I cannot get help. Hallelujah.

Up until recently, the looking felt like an act that took great focus and effort. Although I had put some signs up in my house "Look at Yourself" and "How do I know I'm here?", it was still difficult to remember to look. Now recently the desire to look arises fairly regularly. For the first time, I can look while I am conversing with people. Now the looking no longer feels like a search for a treasure, but rather a falling back into what I have always wanted to fall back into.

Hello Nancy,

First time checking out the just one look forum I stumbled across your entry. It is interesting--I see so many parallels in your description of your situation with my situation. The introduction to the looking in the midst of a depression. The fact that you are not sure about whether the depression caused the eagerness to look at oneself or the looking caused/increased the depression and is a sign of the phase of recovery John talks about so much these days. In me, as is in you, is also the doubt about the ultimate effectiveness of John's approach or at least doubt about my ability to do as he intended us to do. And I also like to listen to John's talks many hours in a week and sometimes wonder if I only use them as a distraction and a safe haven instead of doing the work. But--as with you--my life has gotten better over the last months and I feel a little more clarity and calmness and less fear.

I wish you all the best,

Steffen

This experience is just as valid today as the day it was written. A landmark observation. I wish Nancy could give an update. Would love to know how she progressed since then.

 

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